Heathrow Airport will today begin their Supreme Court challenge to the ruling that the airport’s expansion plans are illegal.
Plans for a third runway at Heathrow were jeopardised in February after the Court of Appeal upheld a legal challenge from Friends of the Earth and other pressure groups, who argued that the 2015 Paris Agreement wasn’t taken into account.
If the decision is overturned the case will enter the planning permission arena but if upheld expansion plans will have to start again in Parliament and it’s unlikely the government have the political will to restart the process.
The world has changed dramatically since February and so have the arguments both sides are making for and against expansion.
The executive director of Back Heathrow Parmjit Dhanda today suggested that job creation and the state of the aviation industry after Covid 19 meant that Heathrow expansion presented a great opportunity for the country.
He added: “We hope the Supreme Court will back the verdict of an independent commission and a Parliamentary majority of 296 votes and allow expansion at Heathrow.”
He highlighted that plans are privately funded argued that they can and will be done in accordance with climate change agreements.
In contrast, Friends of the Earth environmental campaigner Jenny Bates, 64, said: “What Covid-19 has done is make us all think about how we want to run our lives and how we want the economy to be.
“It adds strength to what we’re saying, which is that we need to invest in infrastructure that is resilient to what we’re going to face in terms of the climate crisis.”
Bates dismissed claims that the expansion could undo the damage to the airline industry by Covid-19.
She added: “It would absolutely not be the right thing to build a third runway just to artificially support airlines. Existing individual jobs are what needs to be supported.”
Bates also dismissed Mr Dhanda’s insinuation that the parliamentary vote in 2018 on Heathrow expansion was relevant, stating that the government were given bad and even illegal advice and that on that basis MP’s weren’t voting on a fully informed position.
Friends of the Earth have also adapted their promotional tactics, adopting the mantra ‘Don’t mask the facts’ in a new campaign that aims to point out that Heathrow’s expansion is incompatible with environmental targets.
The appeal takes place today and tomorrow, with a ruling not expected until at least January.